Fighting games have come a long way from the days of Yie Ar Kung Fu and Fighting Street. Modern fighters have tons of characters, loads of special movies, plenty of modes to choose from…they’re packed. Sometimes, though, smaller and less well-known fighters can be enjoyable in their own right, offering a more condensed experience. For all the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat brawlers out there, entire markets exist for those who prefer their butt-kicking thrills in smaller, more manageable doses.
Take Kirby Fighters 2, for instance, which is all about taking Kirby and his pals and setting them on one another in a deadly battle until only one remains. Bloodsport has never been so adorable!
As with the previous Kirby Fighters and Kirby Fighters Deluxe, you’ll choose from a selection of Kirby’s copy forms, as well as various friends from throughout the series, and brawl it up. This ends up playing a lot like a version of Super Smash Bros. starring various Kirby characters. Each copy form and character has a set of different moves that can be used to beat up your foes, depleting their life bars so you can claim a win. Unlike Smash, you’ve got a straightforward health system here, so it’s all about dealing damage as quickly as possible while you keep yourself safe.
I wouldn’t say all these characters are balanced, of course. Each character only has a few attack options and some are certainly better than others. Ranged-heavy guys like the Bomb ability feel a little underpowered when enemies get in, though that could be by design…except other mid-ranged options like Spear are horrifying up close as well. Let’s just say that the Parasol will get you pretty far. Grab that umbrella and get to beating…and that’s not even getting into the different guest characters from various Kirby games.
Either way, you’ll take your chosen character into one of several modes. The Story Mode is a tournament-style affair where you can collect power-ups to help you on your way, while you’ve got a selection of other standard multiplayer choices, including online play and the survival-style Single-Handed Mode. Fighters’ battle system is pretty straightforward so it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to play too much online, but it does help to progress through the RPG-style ranking system so you can unlock new power-ups, copy abilities and characters.
Kirby Fighters 2’s presentation is…pretty much the same as Smash, actually, much like the rest of the game. The UI is straightforward and easy to use, all the Kirby forms and guest characters look as adorable as ever, it’s pretty decent all around and there’s not much to complain about. The real highlight here is, of course, the online play, but there’s not a lot of people to play with and lag tends to be a pretty significant problem. It might be best if you can grab a friend and play via local multiplayer.
It’s probably not going to be your new fighter of choice and I certainly wouldn’t expect to see it at Evo, but Kirby Fighters 2 is an entirely passable take on converting the Kirby formula into a brawl. The story mode should last long enough to cover the asking price and if you can manage to find a lag-free online match, so much the better. Kirby fans won’t go wrong by checking this one out, but again, this isn’t the content-packed extravaganza of even Nintendo’s own Super Smash Bros. series – so keep those expectations in check and you’ll have a good time with a familiar friend.